In cats, it is often caused by viruses like feline viral rhinotracheitis—a herpes virus that only cats get. Other causes include:
- Corneal irritation due to breed characteristics
- Eye tumors
Even though the primary infections are often viral, cats sometimes get secondary bacterial infections that also require treatment.
Symptoms of a kitten eye infection include:
- Red or pink eyes
- Swollen eyes
- Weepy, crusty, or teary eyes
- Blinking, winking, or squinting
- Closing both eyes or one eye more than usual
- Rubbing eyes
- Eating less food, or acting lethargic
Minor viral cat eye infections may not need any treatment at all, but there are things you can do to make your cat more comfortable. More severe eye infections may require a visit to the vet for evaluation or antibiotics.
Remedies and Treatments for Kitten Eye Infections
Lysine is an essential amino acid — an organic compound that helps to form proteins — that can help both cats and humans who have herpes viruses to avoid outbreaks and heal from them faster. Use lysine supplements as a treatment for outbreak prevention and outbreak management in cats.
Lysine is available for cats in the following forms:
- Oral gel
- Cat treats
- Liquid tincture
At-Home Eye Exams to Identify Problems
Looking at your cat's eyes regularly can help you identify problems before they get moderate or severe. To give your cat an exam, look at their face in a brightly lit room. Roll down your cat's eyelid with your fingers. Make sure the lining is pink and healthy-looking. It should not be swollen. A red or white color is a sign of a problem.
Make sure the eyeballs themselves look healthy. Look for any murkiness or cloudiness in the eyeball, which could be a sign of infection. Make sure your cat’s pupils are equal sizes and the area right around the eyeball itself is white.
Clean Your Cat’s Eyes
Clean any discharge from your cat's eyes. Use a cotton ball dipped in water to gently wipe the corners of the eyes. Use a different cotton ball for each eye.
If your cat has long hairs that could poke their eyes, cut the hairs to help prevent scratches that could lead to infections. It’s always safest to ask a professional to do this so you don’t injure the eye.
When to See a Doctor
Minor kitten eye infections due to herpes may clear up on their own, without treatment. However, if you're not sure what may be wrong with your cat, it's always a good idea to take them to the vet, especially when they have eye problems. When eye problems go untreated, they can potentially lead to vision problems or even blindness.
The veterinarian will give your cat an exam and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic or steroid treatment, depending on the diagnosis. Your doctor may also show you how to administer the medication so you can do it at home.
If your cat has the herpes virus, they will probably get another eye infection in the future. However, if it was only a bacterial infection, it should not reoccur. Your cat's eye infection should start to get better after a few days of treatment. If it does not, let your vet know, but do not stop the treatment until your vet tells you to.